Lady From Beyond the Sea-Chapter6
*Oddly enough this is really chapter six in FotR, or at least part of it. Quite the odd coincidence
“Alas! I fear we cannot stay here longer,” said Aragorn, he looked toward the mountains and held up his sword. “Farewell, Gandalf!” he cried. “Did I not say to you: If you pass the doors of Moria, beware! Alas that I spoke true! What hope have we without you!”
Those words felt to Zandra as a dagger twisting in her heart. She could not help but think that if she had defied Gandalf he would be here now, and that they would have had hope.
“We must do without hope,” Aragorn continued, “At least we may yet be avenged. Let us gird ourselves and weep no more! Come! We have a long road, and much to do.” Weep no more Zandra repeated to herself. To do that I must forgive myself. To do that I would have to forget. I can’t bear to forget anything more. There is too much that I don’t remember already.
The Company now went down the road from the Gates. It was rough and broken, fading to a winding track that thrust amid the cracking stones. An eastward bend led them hard by the Sward of Mirrormere, and there, not far from the roadside stood a single column, broken at the top.
“That is Durin’s Stone!” cried Gimli. “I cannot pass without turning aside for a moment to look at the wonder of the dale!”
“Be swift then!” said Aragorn, looking back towards the Gates, “The Sun sinks early. The orcs will not, maybe, come out till after dusk, but we must be far away before nightfall.”
“Come with me, Frodo!” cried the dwarf, springing from the road. “I would not have you go without seeing Kheled-zaram.” He ran down the long green slope. Frodo followed slowly, drawn by the still blue water in spite of hurt and weariness; Sam came following behind.
“Zandra, you go too.” Aragorn said softly to her, pushing her slightly in that direction. “I know your love of water. This is truly a magnificent sight. It will cheer you.”
She forced a sad smile to her lips, and followed the dwarf and two hobbits. Gimli halted beside the standing stone and looked up. It was cracked and weather-worn, and the faint runes upon its side could not be read.
“This pillar marks the spot where Durin first looked in the Mirrormere,” said the dwarf. “Let us look ourselves once, ere we go!”
Zandra stood silently behind the hobbits as they stooped over the dark water. She was strangely reluctant to look into the water. Stupid! she scolded herself, It is only water! There is nothing you know better than water. It is not unwholesome, so why do you fear it? She could not answer this, so she approached the shore and peered into the depths.
At first she could see nothing, but then slowly the forms of the encircling mountains appeared, mirrored in a profound blue, and the peaks were like plumes of white flame above them; beyond there was a space of sky. There, like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars, though sunlight was in the sky above. Of their own stooping forms no shadow could be seen.
Something tugged at her memory. Water, . . .mountains, . . .white flame, . . .stars, . . . and shadows. There was some connection. Something that lurked in her mind, just out of her reach. The image in the water seemed to fade, and the colors swirled and began to form into a different shape. She squinted at the blurred image, willing it to become more defined. She thought there were people, they seemed achingly familiar, but just as she felt she was about to grasp the memory, darkness swirled around the edges of her vision, and she felt as if she were falling. The picture of the people flew farther and farther away, and was gone. Instead she was leaning over the edge of a cliff, reaching with all her might towards a figure swathed in grey, that fell into the darkness.
Gandalf! her mind screamed, and she gritted her eyes against the tears that began again to flow.
“Zandra?” a small voice asked, and she felt a light touch on her shoulder. Her eyes snapped open, and she was back on the bank of Mirrormere, leaning over the clear water, breathing heavily. Frodo was looking at her, worry in his eyes.
“I’m ok,” she lied brightly, firmly pasting a smile on her face. “Water can always take my breath away. It is very beautiful, don’t you think?”
Frodo nodded slowly, “Yes, it is.”
“O Kheled-zaram fair and wonderful!” said Gimli. “There lies the Crown of Durin till he wakes. Farewell!” He bowed and turned away, and hastened back up the green-sward to the road again. The others followed. Zandra did not look at the pool again.
Legolas looked at Zandra curiously, as she walked back from looking into the Mirrormere. Her gaze was shuttered, and he knew that she had withdrawn into herself again. He had been sure that she was opening up to him, in the great hall in Moria. He felt that something had happened at the lake, but the others said nothing, and he didn’t feel she knew him well enough yet to welcome such intrusion on her thought. So he was left to wonder. Perhaps it is only grief. he reflected, After all, he did save her, and losing him must be even more of a blow to her than the rest of us. The thought of her alone, and frightened in the darkness of Dol Guldur smote him again like a physical blow. [No one should have to suffer that, much less her. he thought, watching as she picked up her pack, and the company set off.
Soon they came to a deep well of water clear as crystal, from which a streamlet fell over a stone lip, and ran glistening and gurgling down a steep rocky channel.
“Here is the spring from which the Silverlode rises,” said Gimli.
“Soon it becomes a swift river, and it gathers water from many other mountain-streams,” said Aragorn, “Our road leads besided it for many miles. For I shall take you by the road that Gandalf chose, and first I hope to come to the woods where the Silverlode flows into the Great River-out yonder.” Legolas looked as he pointed, and could see the steam leaping down to the trough of the valley, and then running on and away into the lower lands, until it was lost in a golden haze. Legolas’s heart lifted at the sight.
“There lie the woods of Lothlorien!” he cried. “That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land.” He turned his glowing gaze to Zandra, willing her to rejoice with him. “For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey. So still our songs in Mirkwood say. My heart would be glad if I were beneath the eaves of that wood, and it were springtime!” He was very pleased to see a genuine smile light Zandra’s eyes.
“My heart will be glad, even in the winter,” said Aragorn. “But it lies many miles away. Let us hasten!”
They set out at a great pace, and after a while Legolas glanced back, and noticed that Frodo and Sam were lagging far behind, so he called forward to Aragorn. The others halted, and Aragorn and Zandra ran back.
“I am sorry, Frodo!” Aragorn cried, full of concern. “So much has happened this day that I had forgotten that you and Sam were hurt. A little further on there is a place that we can rest for a little. Come Boromir! We will carry them.”
Legolas watched Zandra, her eyes were full of remorse, more remorse than he thought should have been there. What are you thinking? he wondered.
Soon afterwards they came to a level place through which the steam flowed noisily over shining pebbles. Here they rested.
Zandra rushed to the stream, and returned to where Aragorn tended Sam and Frodo. She carried a kettle full of water, and Legolas was surprised to see it was steaming.
“Good luck, Sam!” Aragorn said. “Many have received worse than this as payment for the slaying of their first orc. The cut is not poisoned, as the wounds of orc blades too often are. It should heal well when I have tended it. Bathe it when Zandra has heated water.”
Zandra silently held out the steaming kettle, and Aragorn nodded his thanks. His lack of surprise was surprising to Legolas. But he knows her better than I he thought with a twinge of some emotion that he was not prepared to examine. Aragorn turned to Frodo.
“I am all right.” Frodo insisted, with what Legolas thought was uncharacteristic reluctance. “All I need is some food and a little rest.”
“No!” said Aragorn and Zandra at the same moment.
“It is a miracle you are alive now,” Zandra continued. “I will not allow you to take any risks, let Aragorn decide if you are alright or not.”
Gently Aragorn stripped off Frodo’s jacket and tunic, and gave a gasp of wonder. Legolas followed suit when Aragorn held up the silver corslet that shimmered like the light on a rippling stream. Zandra laughed in delight.
“Look my friends,” Aragorn called, “Here’s a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in!”
There was a dark and blackened bruise on Frodo’s right side, and his left was also bruised where he had been hurled against the wall. When Zandra saw that he was indeed all right, she walked back and sat by the stream. Legolas decided he would join her.
For several seconds she seemed oblivious to his presence, as she stared pensively into the water. Finally she looked up at him, a sweet smile on her face. He caught his breath at her beauty, and felt a strange urge to bend down and kiss those smiling lips. He cleared his throat, and sat down beside her. He asked the first question that came to his mind.
“Where did you learn. . . those things you do?”
“Which thing did you mean?” she asked, then answered her own question, “All of them I suppose. I have always had an affinity for water.” Her face darkened momentarily. “At least I think so.”
“Water? But. . . ” he cocked his head, “I heard you mention weather work.” She smiled again.
“Water in the air is what makes the weather,” she explained. “I control water, and so I can control the weather, but it requires a lot of energy.”
“But how do you do it?”
“G. . Gandalf,” she tripped over the name, “he works, . . .worked with fire, shaping it, and summoning it to his will, why cannot I do the same with water?”
“What I meant was, . . .well, . . . Gandalf is Istari. . . and. . .” he trailed off.
“And what am I?” she finished for him, then sighed, turning away. “I don’t know.”
There were several moments of silence. Legolas was about to turn the subject when she continued, “I remember little, . . . except that there was light before the darkness.”
“But, . . . you said your flute was from your mother?” he said.
“From the person I assume to be my mother.” Her shoulders sagged, and he cursed himself for bringing up what was obviously a painful subject, but she continued, “There are brief flashes of a lady, with blond hair, . . .like mine . . . and blue eyes. Beautiful blue eyes. I know she gave me the flute, and all of those flashes of memory that have her, . . . have a feeling of . . .comfort.” she stopped, and Legolas could see that she was fingering the flute, turning it in her hands. A tear slipped down her cheek.
Gently he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. Her eyes glittered with tears. I wonder if Mallorn leaves can compare to her eyes, he thought fleetingly, as he searched for something he could say that would comfort her.
“Legolas! Zandra! It is time to continue!” Aragorn called. Zandra turned away again, and wiped away her tears, then leapt to her feet, and rushed back to the Company.